Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


Australia is home to some of the most bizarre and unusual mammalian fauna on the planet; it is one of only two countries where all three extant subclasses of mammals, including marsupials (the metatheria), can be found. During this unit, students will explore a series of fascinating lectures, labs and field excursions that will highlight the unique biology of Australian marsupials. Contrasts will be drawn between marsupials and monotremes, and native eutherian mammals. The unit will endeavour to focus on Western Australian species wherever possible. The topics to be covered during the course of the unit will include: 1) origin and evolution, 2) diversity across ecological niches, 3) musculoskeletal anatomy and adaptations, 4) unique anatomy, 5) reproductive biology (including contrasts with monotremes and Australian rodents), 6) nutrition and feeding strategies, 7) thermoregulation and ecophysiology, 8) communication and social behaviour, 9) health and disease, 10) an indigenous perspective, 11) marsupials in suburbia and 12) threats, decline and management strategies. The unit will include 12 weeks of lectures, laboratory sessions, excursions and field work (combined online/face-to-face delivery).

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) explain the basic science and concepts underpinning marsupial biology; (2) demonstrate appropriate use of techniques and equipment in the field to study marsupial biology; (3) interpret self-generated data on a topic related to marsupial biology; (4) work effectively and collaboratively in groups, and individually, in the pursuit of scientific knowledge related to marsupial biology; and (5) communicate outcomes to others using the discourse conventions relevant to the field of animal biology.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) quizzes and worksheets; (2) individual written report; and (3) group oral presentation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Renee Firman and Assoc. Prof. Amanda Ridley
Unit rules
Enrolment in
72520 Master of Biological Science (ID 165)
or HON-ZOOLY Zoology (ID 1393)
or HON-CONBI Conservation Biology
Advisable prior study
a major in Conservation Biology
or Zoology or equivalent
Incidental fees
Incidental student fees and charges are costs incurred by students as part of their studies at UWA that are in addition to their tuition fees (further information is available here).
Participation in this unit will incur the following incidental fee(s):
Field Trip (estimated cost - 150).
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.